It wasn’t that he hadn’t had time to finish reading it or access to the material. His parents got divorced when he was younger and it became a tradition that he always read the books with his dad and sister as a way for the three of them to share something together as a family, a tradition that he kept even after he moved away to college.
It’s just one example, but it illustrates how deeply the Harry Potter books and movies have affected — and continue to affect — our lives. But J.K. Rowling’s epic isn’t just significant for this generation, but for this generation’s parents as well.
These characters, settings and stories have literally grown up with the kids that read them. I was just a year younger than 10-year-old Harry Potter when the first book hit shelves in the U.S. and since then children all around the world have come of age with Harry, finding complexity and meaning in their own life as the novels grew more complex and meaningful. With the movies, growing up with the characters became even more literal as the characters and actors aged on screen from movie to movie, going through the same, often awkward, changes we were going through.
These movies also have accomplished a feat that few franchises ever get to dream of: Eight movies, all chronological telling a story that got to grow and expand with its cast and audience. The charisma and experience the team builds with each movie is interesting enough to watch on its own. Each movie is a little better than the last, the acting a little more natural and the direction a little more artful.
As much as these books and movies are a link to childhood, and more importantly a link to growing up, for the children who read and watched them, these stories represent as much to parents who read and watched them with their children. To those parents these stories provide a link to their children, a bond over a shared interest and one they can revisit with a book or a movie.
I, like so many people my age, have spent so much time trying to imagine the world portrayed by Rowling into existence. Now as the final movie is released, it’s hard to imagine a world without Harry Potter.